Sleep Deficit

I have a book called Smart Medicine for Healthier Living, and one section of the book talks about how to determine if you are suffering from a “sleep deficit”. When I read it, I couldn’t help but think that most of us are suffering from a sleep deficit based on the criteria presented. The book said that quality of sleep is something to pay attention to, and if you are experiencing any of the following, you may have a sleep deficit:

  • Healthy sleepers generally take about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may fall asleep in 5 minutes or less.

  • If you wake up repeatedly in the middle of the night or toss and turn, you may have a sleep deficit. If the alarm clock jars you awake, you are not getting enough sleep. You should awaken naturally without an alarm clock, and feel well-rested upon awakening (if any of you actually wake up at the proper time each morning without an alarm clock, please e-mail me your secrets!).

  • If you find yourself nodding off during the day, you may have a sleep deficit. People who are getting enough sleep will feel alert, rested, and will find it almost impossible to nap during daylight hours.

Anyone else just self-diagnose a sleep deficit?! I guess the lesson is that we ALL need more sleep, and it should be a constant priority in our lives.

In addition to melatonin and magnesium, valerian root extract can be helpful for those who don’t sleep very well. Valerian root is a mood-balancing herb that acts as a sedative. It calms the nervous system when someone is stressed or anxious, and studies have shown that it can be just as powerful as prescription drugs used for insomnia. A proper dose would be about 300-500mg taken 1 hour before bedtime.

That wraps up sleep week – hope you guys learned something and will make the effort to get a touch more sleep at night! It’s so important for long-term health and overall well-being, and will make you much happier on a day-to-day basis.


  1. Ann, great blogs on sleep. I have always placed a high importance on it, but maybe that is more by default than anything else. If you are an early riser, that generally means early bed times and earlier dinners. I struggle with the two hour rule, but will try to change that. What about exercize before bed? Does that charge your body up or prepare it well for a restful nnight?

  2. Ann-
    I am really enjoying your blog. I am a fellow NTI student (distance) and love to see what topics you cover.
    Just a comment about the Valerian root--I love it!! I take it every once in a while when I am feeling a little stressed or anxious. What I find great about it is not just that it helps my body relax and fall asleep, but that I sleep much deeper. It really helps you reach that deepest stage of sleep and you wake much more rested.

  3. Ed, Check out my first two posts on sleep to learn more about exercising right before bed. To sum it up - it does interfere with your natural "calming down" at night, and can make sleep difficult.

    Suzi - I'm so glad to hear that the valerian root works! I'll have to try it myself... thanks!